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University of Texas University of Texas Libraries

Social Work

Citing Sources

Understanding Citations

The purpose of a citation is to provide the reader with information to find the source of the author's facts or ideas. A citation includes, at the very least, the title, author, source of publication, and date of publication. 

Citation styles, such as MLA, APA, and Chicago/Turabian, are sets of rules that determine how citations are formatted. Different disciplines favor certain styles, for social work, you will use the APA (American Psychological Association) style guide.

APA requires both in text citations as well as a reference list at the end of the paper.

In text citations includes the author's last name and the date the article was published in parenthesis before the period at the end of a sentence.

(Jones, 2015)

For the reference list, APA format is as follows:

1st author last name, first initial, 2nd author last name, first initial. (year). Article title. Journal title, volume (issue), page #s. DOI

Miller, A., Hess, J., Bybee, D., & Goodkind, J. (2018). Understanding the mental health consequences of family separation for refugees: Implications for policy and practice. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 88(1), 26-37. doi:10.1037/ort0000272


Citations and Style Help

A citation manager can help you organize your sources and easily add them to your literature review.

More information about citation managers

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Download Zotero for Windows or Mac

Zotero Connector is a browser plug-in that allows you to easily save content to Zotero as you browse the web

Zotero Connector can:

  • Sense the file type, allowing you to add PDF, images, audio, video, and snapshots of webpages
  • Automatically add embedded metadata to create your citations (a feature supported by many databases)

You can download Zotero Connector for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari

Zotero From Your Browser

Using Connector

Simply click the button in the toolbar of your browser

The button in connector will change based upon the type of file or resource you are trying to save to your library. 

 Documents, Videos, and Web Pages can all be saved.

When multiple items on a webpage can be saved you will see a folder icon and will be asked to select which items you want to save.

Zotero From Your Desktop

Add by Identifier

Click the magic wand button to add an item by ISBN, DOI, or PubMed ID

Add an Item Manually

Click the green plus button to add an item manually. You will need to select the item type from a dropdown list and then type information about the item in the fields in the right-hand pane.

Attaching a PDF or other file

Files and links can be attached to items in your library by highlighting the item and then clicking the paperclip button. This is useful if you are unable to download the PDF version of a database article using Zotero Connector, but are able to download it manually.


Retrieving PDF Metadata

If you have imported a PDF into your library without metadata, you can use Zotero to search for the item and generate the metadata automatically by right-clicking the item and selecting “Retrieve Metadata for PDF”

If Zotero cannot find the metadata for your PDF, you can add the metadata manually by right-clicking on the item and selecting “Create Parent Item”

1. Select 'Preferences' under the Edit dropdown menu for PC or the Zotero dropdown menu for MAC

2. Select the 'Cite' tab, then select American Psychological Association 6th edition

​Zotero can be used to easily create in-text citations and bibliographies in Word. When you install Zotero, an add-on is automatically installed for Word.

  1. To create in-text citations and bibliographies in Word, simply open the Zotero tab in Word.

  2. Click Add/Edit Citation and a red search bar will appear, allowing you to search the items in your library. 

  3. Start typing the name of the citation you need by author or title and a dropdown menu of choices will appear. You can add multiple citations at one time. Select the items you wish to add to the in-text citations and then hit Enter. The citations will appear in your Word document in your chosen citation style.

  4. To add a bibliography or list of references  to the end of your paper, simply select the Add/Edit Bibliography button. The Zotero add-on will keep track of the order of items in the bibliography (alphabetical or order of citation according to the citation style you have selected) and will reorder, add, and remove citations as they are changed in your paper.


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Not sure how to cite something?

There is not always an exact rule for every situation. If you're not sure how to cite something, try using a citation manager or find an article that has already cited that source and use their citation as a guide for your own.

Tip: To find out if the article you're using has been cited in another paper, search for it in Google Scholar. Click "Cited by" underneath the article description.

Note: These citations might not be in APA, but they should at least give you all of the information you need, which you can then format according to APA style.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.